Chris Evans took a bruising during filming of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’
BY Ethan Sacks NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Sunday, March 30, 2014
LOS ANGELES — Maybe he should have taken the stairs.
For Chris Evans’ very first scene filming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” opening Friday, he found himself pinned in a glass elevator for three days, battling with a dozen burly stunt men and actors.
“I’m not wearing the mask in that scene so there really isn’t a lot of opportunity to let a stunt man come in,” says the star, mimicking the comic book superhero’s fighting moves from the safety of a plush seat in a swanky Beverly Hills hotel room.
“If you grab someone and you have to throw them, that takes a lot of strength and energy. And if some guy has you around the neck and you’re whipping elbows and trying to throw knees, you’re going to sustain injuries. You go home beat up and bruised.”
Evans, though, sometimes misses those special effects programmers.
“God, I had it good on ‘Fantastic Four,’ ” laughs Evans. “The second the Human Torch catches on fire, it switches to CGI and I was like, ‘I’ll be at home, guys!’
“Every part of Captain America’s sequences involved me. So there really were no days off.”
But after all the hard work and fight scenes, go ahead and try prying that shield out of his hands.
“On those days when you’re dripping sweat and cursing everybody who told you to do the movie,” Evans says, “it’s very satisfying knowing that you’re going to end up doing something great.”
MOVIE REVIEW / 20 MAR 2014 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER REVIEW
BY ROTH CORNET
The ninth installment in the Marvel cinematic universe, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is also perhaps its most intricately crafted. The set-up is straightforward enough: Cap and Black Widow are working for/with Nick Fury when S.H.I.E.L.D. comes under attack. Unsure of whom, if anyone, to trust, they must uncover a hidden threat before it destroys them all. The film not only serves as a strong follow-up to Cap’s first outing, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Joss Whedon’s ensemble juggernaut The Avengers, it also has the strongest ties to and most profound impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large. The repercussions of the events of this film will reverberate throughout all of Marvel’s properties.
More to the point, the film is one of, if not the strongest individual installments to date. One part spy thriller, one part character journey, one part visceral action movie, and one part straight-up superhero adventure film, The Winter Solider hits all of the right notes and serves as an example of the very best of what comic book movies have to offer. The scale of the film alone is unprecedented for Marvel, it feels as if the studio has taken every lesson they’ve learned in terms of how to construct and effectively execute an action sequence and integrated it into one elaborate and gorgeous piece of spectacle.
Best known for their work on television comedies such as Community and Happy Endings, no one will ever question whether or not directors Anthony and Joe Russo are capable of delivering exhilarating and innovative spectacle again. The Winter Soldier moves at a pulse-pounding pace and one never gets the sense that even one of the 136-minutes of screen time was wasted. Car chases, hard-core hand-to-hand, aerial dogfights and pressure-cooker gun battles are interwoven with a multi-layered script that combines elements of at least three genres.
The film operates on multiple levels. This is a sharp script that hearkens back to the ‘70s-era political thrillers. The filmmakers understand the tropes enough to both revel in and toy with them, delivering moments that feel at once classic yet fresh. Things do get a bit plot-heavy in moments and the villains’ motivations read as somewhat amorphous. It’s not quite, “we like evil because it’s so EVIL,” but, it’s in that arena. Having said that, the film doesn’t shy away from some of those pulpy elements; in fact, it plays with and utilizes them to infuse the proceedings with a sense of play.
One of the most surprising aspects of The Winter Soldier is how bold Marvel is willing to be with it. Not only does the film potentially shake-up the structure of their entire cinematic universe (we won’t say why or how here, but stay tuned to IGN for more on that once the film has been released), but the creators understand the political thriller enough to get that if they’re going to do one, and do it well, then they’re going to have to introduce a strong point-of-view about something that is relevant to our contemporary world – and that they do.
The Winter Soldier offers a strong perspective about a current geopolitical hot button issue - the cost and meaning of freedom. The execution is graceful, though, in the sense that it does so without ever veering into proselytization or becoming too convoluted. There are ideas to chew on if you’re so inclined, but at its core, The Winter Soldier remains a pulsing and fast paced piece of entertainment.
Character isn’t sacrificed for the sake of plot, though. The Winter Soldier is a well-balanced film that serves up comedy, drama, and action. The big and small moments are equally thick with tension and there is some powerful development in this film. In fact, Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers / Captain America in some ways becomes the most relatable of the Marvel heroes in this film, which is, of course, a bit odd, given his origin.
There was a promise of an arc for him that began in The Avengers and really pays off here. The Winter Soldier explores the cost of being Cap: a man out of time, who in many ways belongs to no one and nothing, in a wrenching manner. There is a sequence early on in the film that is particularly shattering to watch as a fan of these characters. We’re truly exposed to his vulnerability in this film, but he's also ten times the a**-kicker and name taker. That shield has never been utilized so dynamically or been rendered as fiercely.
In general, the characters are given rich ground to play in, with the exception of a few who’ve been introduced in this film. Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter is only afforded cursory treatment, and while Anthony Mackie gives a strong showing as Falcon, and fans will likely enjoy his presence, his purpose is primarily to serve as Cap’s sidekick. Rogers’ true partner in the film is Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow.
Building on what Whedon established for her in The Avengers, The Winter Soldier continues what is evolving into a fascinating character trajectory. She and Cap have a great repartee which feels akin to some of the truly witty early cinema rom-coms (though, theirs is not necessarily a romantic engagement). She is a powerhouse unto herself as well, though. Widow, who's already been endowed with fantastic comedic moments and a fascinating and full backstory as a character, is given a tremendous moral conflict here and left at a very interesting crossroads by the film's end.
Nick Fury is also granted scenes ripe with genuine emotion in the film. Humor, heart, and sincere fear are all in play and he too is brought to a surprising and exciting place by the story’s conclusion. In some ways, we see more from Fury here than in all of his previous appearances combined.
One very notable new addition is Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce. This is more than just a cameo, and Redford, not surprisingly, turns in a gorgeous performance that illustrates that he is well aware of exactly what movie he’s in. The actor brings a gravitas that helps to sell the film as the ‘70s spy-thriller that it is. He brings the weight of his entire cinematic legacy with him, which also helps us to immediately buy into his character’s power and authority. We don't want to give too much away, but will say that seeing him in this capacity will likely be a thrill for cinephiles and comic book fans alike.
Finally, as to The Winter Soldier himself. It is no exaggeration to say that Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier is – other than Loki – Marvel’s most successful, and by far most terrifying, villain to date. Again, we’ll leave the details off the page, as we want audiences to enjoy the experience fully. However, we will say that Stan is both heartbreaking and legitimately chilling. He is relentless, feels unstoppable, is fundamentally the Terminator of the superhero world and is absolutely one of the most exciting new characters we’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier First look review Captain America: The Winter Soldier – first look review 4 / 5 stars
Suffused with a realism rarely seen in comic-book movies, the Captain America sequel revives the flagging superhero genre Captain America: The Winter Soldier Patriot games … Chris Evans as Captain America. Photograph: Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar/Marvel Studios
First published on Thursday 20 March 2014 21.00 GMT
To many, the end of the last Thor movie felt like the beginning of terminal superhero fatigue. Certainly my own enthusiasm was low for another two hours-plus of complicated nonsense, building up to a wearying effects-splurge climax in which no one important dies. Especially with Captain America, the most white-bread Avenger in the pack.
But the custodians of the megabucks Marvel franchise do something remarkable here; radical, even. They get political. Rather than, say, trying to stop a malevolent super-elf destroying the nine realms of Asgard, these superheroes are suddenly grappling with real-world issues such as national security, civil liberty, and intelligence gathering. It's exhilarating to see.
This sequel gets Marvel out of the corner it had painted itself into with its previous cycle of superhero movies, up to Avengers Assemble, which detailed the formation of Shield. Effectively a high-tech, first-world security council with no democratic oversight, Shield was starting to look rather sinister in the post-Edward Snowden landscape. In Star Wars terms, it's the Empire, not the Rebel Alliance. This movie's masterstroke is to flip the equation and bring the whole enterprise into question.
And who better to question it than Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America? He's not much of a personality, and his super powers are pretty run-of-the-mill (advanced discus throwing – woo), but if there's one thing the Captain can do better than any other superhero, it's represent the patriotic Soul of the Nation. Especially since he's just been defrosted from a time when the nation had a clear idea of what its soul actually was.
So when Rogers casts his 1940s-tinted eyes over Shield's "quantum surge in threat analysis" – a chilling fusion of mass surveillance and drone warfare – and says, "This isn't freedom. This is fear," it's quite a moment.
The enemy here is within, which means no one is to be trusted and everything's up in the air, often literally. It would be a crime to spoil the surprises in a plot that owes as much to 1970s conspiracy thrillers as comic books. It's only a pity the workmanlike execution can't match this thematic boldness. This is, after all, a mega-budget studio movie, not an Occupy-funded piece of agit-prop. The genre still demands its product placement, its high-tech weaponry, its crunching action set-pieces, and the obligatory effects-splurge climax in which no one important dies (that's hardly a spoiler considering they're already talking about Captain America 3).
In terms of star power, Chris Evans is no Robert Downey Jr either, it must be said. He's not even the most famous person called Chris Evans. With his 90s-boyband hairstyle and an emotional range that runs from "a bit sad" to "really quite cross", he tends to disappear into blandness when he's not chucking his shield around.
Burning brighter is Scarlett Johansson, whose Black Widow has fun chipping away at the Captain's old-school earnestness and trying to fix him up with a date. Having played the voluptuous female mascot in this boys' club for so long, Johansson at least gets to be an actual character this time. The supposed baddie of the piece, the Winter Soldier – a sort of metal-armed goth snowboarder – barely registers amid the densely plotted clamour, though he's not the only baddie by any means.
These shortcomings don't really matter, though. The real excitement of the movie is seeing just how far they'll take their political parallels – which is pretty much all the way to a grand conspiracy theory linking current US foreign policy with Nazi totalitarianism. Advocates of the "liberal Hollywood" conspiracy will find plenty of ammunition here, too. In the first movie, an injection transformed wimpy Steve Rogers into strapping Captain America; similarly, this sequel gives the flagging comic-book movie an adrenaline shot of relevance. You've got to hand it to them.
Has the Marvel franchise become too swollen with its own success? Robbie Collin reviews the hotly anticipated Captain America sequel, starring Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson
Dir: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo; Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Anthony Mackie, Toby Jones, Hayley Atwell. 12A cert, 136 min.
To make a Captain America film, first you have to solve the Captain America character: work out what he stands for, and, by extension, what America stands for too.
For Joe Johnston, the business was straightforward enough. His 2011 Captain America picture was the fifth juggernaut in the ongoing Marvel Avengers convoy, and took place almost entirely during the Second World War. In it, the Captain, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), was a rippling pastiche of a military hero, who waged war in freedom’s name against grim men in black trench coats – Hydra, rather than the Nazis, although you suspect they shared a tailor – and fought with a moral certitude that was supposed to strike us as charmingly dated.
This sequel unfolds almost entirely in present-day Washington DC, where freedom is less of a defendable ideal than a political sales-pitch. Your first clue that something might be afoot, providing you’ve seen Three Days of the Condor or All The President’s Men, is the presence of Robert Redford, who plays a beaming director of the SHIELD intelligence service, and whose DC office block – no more than a hop, skip and jump from the Watergate building, you suspect – houses three state-of-the-art drone gunships in its basement.
The US government plans to send these craft to the Middle East, where they can bullseye suspicious cave-dwellers from on high, which Rogers can’t square with his own, more honestly swashbuckling sense of patriotism.
“I thought the punishment came after the crime,” he tells his commander, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). “We can’t afford to wait these days,” comes the barked response. More than ever, Jackson here has the cast of an angry pillar box, and in some scenes in The Winter Soldier he seems to transform into a column of pure, compacted rage. First, though, come suspicion and panic: Fury uncovers a conspiracy relating to the drones and becomes the target of an elite assassin, the Winter Soldier, whose own masters (to anyone in the film, at least) are not immediately identifiable.
Zingy stuff, you think: the winter soldiers were a real-life group of Vietnam veterans who sought to publicise American war crimes in that conflict in the early Seventies, and the film’s invoking of that movement, along with its allusions to drone strikes, NSA eavesdropping and the Pollack-Pakula-Coppola surveillance-thriller cycle, suggests a new boldness from Marvel Studios.
Having gathered up these combustible reference points, though, The Winter Solider packs them tidily into a box marked "window-dressing" before moving on. As Rogers bounces from one clue-gathering site to the next, the film summons up no real sense of paranoia, or even that much is at stake. The film’s thundering centrepiece, a mass shootout in broad daylight, borrows heavily from Michael Mann’s Heat, which is fun in the moment, but an untidy fit with the plot.
The directors are Anthony and Joe Russo, who came to the project from a string of television work and the romantic comedy You, Me and Dupree, a picture you feel really would have benefitted from a Heat-style mass shootout in broad daylight. They bring a flatly televisual look to the film, but also television’s understanding that supporting characters can be more than plucky sidekicks. Scarlett Johansson, returning as the double-agent Black Widow, is handed the most (the first?) complex female role in the Avengers franchise to date. Meanwhile, Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, an ex-paratrooper with a wing-sprouting rucksack, cleanly justifies the film’s use of 3D in a series of swooping sky-ballet action scenes.
Still, you can’t help but feel disappointment that a film with a relatively spicy premise becomes, in the end, so risk-averse. Is it possible for a franchise so swollen with its own success to still find room for creative bravery? Time, money and the four more Avengers films currently in production will tell.
This review was originally published on the date 27 March 2014
Thawed-out war hero Steve Rogers (Evans) is ever more uneasy about his affiliation with deep-spy network S.H.I.E.L.D.. And when the organisation turns on him, he uncovers a horrifying conspiracy.
There is something pleasingly, and no doubt deliberately, ironic in Marvel Studios' flag-wearing hero fronting its most subversive movie yet. Not that writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus are being subtle about it. "You're holding a gun to everyone on Earth and calling it protection," Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) tells Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) early on. During the very same dialogue he says, "I thought the punishment usually came after the crime," and - just in case we hadn't got the point - "This isn't freedom, this is fear." Even so, what we have here is the key to Captain America's real appeal, the answer to any criticism that he's just a stiff-necked, steroidal boy scout. As a 95 year-old thirtysomething with an early-'40s value set in War-On-Terror America, he is less the USA's poster boy than its most steadfast foil. Something co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo (Welcome To Collinwood) clearly relish getting their indie-cred teeth into on a blockbuster scale.
Post-Chitauri invasion, Rogers is a useful asset for shady superspy network S.H.I.E.L.D., but also a pain in the ass. During a great opening set-piece in which Rogers, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and a squad of S.H.I.E.L.D. goons take out a crew of French/Algerian pirates, our blond hero complains of being forced to play "Fury's caretaker". This is not what he signed up for. This is not what America should be doing. History has seen the nation gradually diminished from world's saviour, to world's policeman, to a "caretaker" over the course of decades. For Rogers the moral decline appears instantaneous, and it rankles intensely. There are then indirect tributes to Edward Snowden's whistleblowing and shades of the NSA privacy-invasion scandal. Pretty bold stuff to be sneaking under the canvas of this primary-coloured marquee.
It's uncertain how much any of it will land with the film's young, core audience, although this does feel like Marvel's most 'mature' picture yet, an admirable risk to take. It is certainly the studio's most talky and plotty, and the big wink that is the casting of Robert Redford (who, by the way, would have been ideal Cap casting in the '70s) as S.H.I.E.L.D. suit Alexander Pierce suggests 1975's Three Days Of The Condor as its most obvious inspiration. The Manchurian Candidate (1962) is in there too, for sure. But, as Rogers' journey manhandles him out into the cold and makes him a hoodie-wearing renegade advised to "trust nobody" and targeted by a similarly empowered super-agent (the titular Winter Soldier), the influence of the Bourne trilogy weighs down, too - the Russos even going so far as to steal a famous Bourne shot directly towards the film's end.
The action and violence are the most grounded we've seen in a Marvel film. The First Avenger, with its steampunk-laser weirdness and numbing, never-ending montages, felt dull and insulated. Iron Man, Thor and Hulk all dodge (or brush off) bullets via their self-evident fantastical/sci-fi trimmings. But, apart from the fact that he lobs a big metal Frisbee around and has been artificially pumped to the very peak of attainable physical fitness, the Captain is operating on the same plane as Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan and James Bond. He even throws a knife at someone.
Evans has settled comfortably into the title role, and bolsters its appeal with a precise charm, never letting you forget that the heart of a regular and sincere wimp beats beneath that rock-sculpted chest. He spends much of the film working up a will-they-could-they? partnership with Johansson's still-sparky Black Widow, who enjoys her greatest chunk of Marvel screen time yet. It's an engaging double act. And when he isn't ticking off Fury, running righteous rings around the cycloptic boss' persistent, end-justifies-means ambivalence, he's fostering a whole new buddyship with Anthony Mackie's likable veteran support-group organiser Sam Wilson.
And then the wings pop out. Wilson, after all, is also The Falcon. Not just any ex-forces guy, but someone with secret impossi-tech that enables him to flap about like a supersonic swift. To chide this development as silly in a comic-book movie may be like spitting out a jellybean for tasting of chemicals, but even so, after the Russos' first-rate work setting up a smart, Washington, D.C.-based conspiracy thriller, it feels like a backstep into formula. And The Falcon does look naff: Three Days Of The Condor giving way to Condorman.
Inexorably, the whole enterprise drifts into business as usual. The more the story refers back to the first Captain America film, the less interesting it becomes - its subversiveness becomes subverted. The twists are easy to figure, and certain reveals are just stamp-your-foot hoary. Plus, given the constant reminders that this is just one adventure within the greater Marvelverse, you can't help but be distracted by one, nagging question: wouldn't Tony Stark have something to say about all this? Especially when those huge, deadly S.H.I.E.L.D. machines - now propelled by his technology - launch into the sky.
Speaking of which, The Winter Soldier is the third of the last four Marvel movies to take its final-act set-piece into American airspace and feature a lot of shiny CG things whizzing around amid orange-blossom detonations. In Avengers Assemble it was exhilarating. In Iron Man 3 it was acceptable. Now it's a case of, "This again? Really guys?" There's also an earlier action gag, in which the Captain single-handedly takes down an aircraft on a bridge, that is almost a beat-for-beat repeat of Heimdall's dark-elf ship takedown on the Bifrost in Thor: The Dark World - and it, too, feels like a last-minute, studio-led insertion.
None of this is ruinous, though. The Winter Soldier does go out on an intriguing note, which should have big repercussions on future Earthbound Marvel stories. Captain America is an interesting character, arguably the most interesting of the Avengers, the one with the greatest thematic scope. And that can only bode well for his next solo, hopefully Helicarrier-free, outing.
It may climax with an overly formulaic splurge, but The Winter Soldier benefits from an old-school-thriller tone that, for its first half at least, distinguishes it from its more obviously superheroic Marvel cousins.
"I don't like bullies, I don't care where they're from" - Steve Rogers
After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy--the Winter Soldier.
Writing Credits Christopher Markus ... (screenplay) & Stephen McFeely ... (screenplay)
Joe Simon ... (based on the Marvel comic by) and Jack Kirby ... (based on the Marvel comic by)
Cast (in credits order) verified as complete
Chris Evans ... Steve Rogers / Captain America Samuel L. Jackson ... Nick Fury Scarlett Johansson ... Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow Robert Redford ... Alexander Pierce Sebastian Stan ... Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier Anthony Mackie ... Sam Wilson / Falcon Cobie Smulders ... Maria Hill Frank Grillo ... Brock Rumlow Maximiliano Hernández... Jasper Sitwell (as Maximiliano Hernandez) Emily VanCamp ... Kate / Agent 13 Hayley Atwell ... Peggy Carter Toby Jones ... Dr. Arnim Zola Stan Lee ... Smithsonian Guard Callan Mulvey ... Jack Rollins Jenny Agutter ... Councilwoman Hawley Bernard White ... Councilman Singh Alan Dale ... Councilman Rockwell Chin Han ... Councilman Yen Garry Shandling ... Senator Stern Georges St-Pierre ... Georges Batroc
"I don't like bullies, I don't care where they're from" - Steve Rogers